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If your child is placed under investigation by school officials or police in Denver, it is crucial that you seek legal representation from an experienced Colorado juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible so that you and your child fully understand your child’s rights. Police can detain and question your child for any municipal or state law violation, and a parent is legally required to be present for any questioning. You and your child have the right to remain silent, and it is advisable to exercise that right until you have had the opportunity to speak with a juvenile defense attorney, even if you are convinced that your child is innocent.
Juveniles are entitled to a prompt hearing to determine whether continued detention is necessary or if the juvenile may be returned home with the parents. The court may also order the juvenile be held until an alternate placement option can be investigated. To level the playing field in this unfamiliar and stressful territory, you will want a passionate, experienced juvenile lawyer present for this hearing. After the detention hearing, the prosecution has 72 hours to file charges. The juvenile justice system moves quickly, so if your child has been arrested in the Denver area, it is imperative to consult with a Colorado juvenile defense lawyer as soon as possible to avoid worsening of already dire and difficult circumstances.
The Juvenile Justice System was created to address how children between the ages of 10-18 are treated when they commit a violation of municipal or state law. Juvenile Law in Colorado is governed by the Children’s Code at §19-2-)101 C.R.S., the intent of which is to sanction juvenile offenders while also minding the best interests of the juvenile, as well as the victim and the community. The system also seeks to help the juvenile become a productive member of society. A key difference between juvenile law and the adult criminal justice system is that the juvenile system focuses i on rehabilitation while the adult system focuses primarily on punishment. Though the system is designed to help the juvenile offender, nobody accused of a crime should ever go it alone in any court of law. A Denver juvenile attorney will advocate for your child and ensure that he or she is being treated fairly.
Though the juvenile system places emphasis on rehabilitation, a parent whose child is accused of a serious offense will find little comfort in such rehabilitative intentions. Nothing about the system feels rehabilitative or nurturing; rather, it often feels as though your child has already been convicted, especially when he or she is removed from school and/or from your home. It may seem that the system is insensitive or oblivious to what is truly in your child’s best interests, and a juvenile defense attorney is needed to communicate effectively on your child’s behalf and to uphold his or her best interests. Parents are legally required to be present for custodial police interrogations of their child, so they sometimes experience first-hand the high-pressure tactics employed by police to obtain incriminating evidence. It is always wise to speak with your Denver juvenile defense lawyer before volunteering your child to speak with police for any purpose.
Prosecutors and judges may hand out adult-type punishments for certain juvenile offenses, but rehabilitative measures are also desired based on the notion that juveniles are more amenable to rehabilitation than adults. It is believed that juveniles are less able than adults to reason and calculate the consequences of certain actions and are more likely to be driven by emotion or peer pressure. The Supreme Court acknowledged the reduced culpability of juveniles, specifying three general differences between adults and juveniles:
• Juveniles lack maturity and a full sense of responsibility, resulting in “impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions”
• Juveniles are “more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures”
• A juvenile’s character is not as fully formed as an adult’s Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 578 (2005).
In the juvenile justice system, delinquent behavior is addressed with both rehabilitative and punitive measures. In some cases where serious violence has occurred, the prosecution can request that the court consider the totality of the juvenile’s circumstances and decide whether the juvenile should be tried as an adult. Your juvenile defense attorney in Denver can ensure that the court understands just exactly what your child’s circumstances are and prevent the prosecution from presenting a lopsided or inaccurate viewpoint that will work against your child. The legislature has mandated sentences for certain juvenile offenders who have been previously adjudicated as follows:
• Habitual Juvenile Offender: a juvenile who has previously been twice adjudicated for separate and distinct delinquent acts that would constitute felonies if committed by an adult.
• Mandatory Juvenile Offender: a juvenile who has been adjudicated twice for delinquent acts or has been adjudicated and then had probation revoked for another delinquent act. (Mandatory one year out-of-home placement or up to two years in the county jail if the juvenile is 18 or older at the time of sentencing.)
• Repeat Juvenile Offender: a juvenile who has been adjudicated but is subsequently adjudicated for an offense that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult. (Mandatory one year out-of-home placement or up to two years in the county jail if the juvenile is 18 or older at the time of sentencing.)
• Violent Juvenile Offender: a juvenile who is adjudicated for committing a delinquent act that constitutes a “crime of violence,” which includes certain felonies committed when weapons are used or serious bodily injury occurs. (One year out-of-home placement unless the juvenile is younger than 12 years old, in which case the court may make exceptions.)
• Aggravated Juvenile Offender: a juvenile who is adjudicated for acts that would constitute a class one or two felony if committed by an adult, or a juvenile who has been adjudicated for a felony and is subsequently adjudicated for a crime of violence, or a juvenile adjudicated for any felony sex offense. (Up to five years in the DYC; seven years for class one felony.)
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Generally, when a juvenile goes to prison, known as the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), the maximum sentence is two years; however, the sentence can be as much as five years if certain aggravating criteria are met. . While juvenile prison’s seek to rehabilitate, they are largely used to punish the juvenile. Even if you know that your child needs correction and you believe that detention may yield positive results, your child still needs legal representation of a Colorado juvenile defense lawyer to ensure that any punishment meted out is fair and appropriate.
An effective juvenile defense includes solutions to problems that may be influencing the child’s behavior. Some delinquent behavior may be attributed to mental or emotional issues that can be treated, but parents may lack the resources to deal with the problems. Ironically, getting into trouble with the law sometimes provides an effective pathway to resolving problems because of the resources made available to parents through the courts. Drug addiction also influences delinquent behavior, and the juvenile court may order some form of treatment. A juvenile’s parents are required by law to ensure their child’s compliance with court-ordered treatment plans, so the guidance of a juvenile defense lawyer will help to ensure that you fully understand all that is expected of you and your child so that you do not inadvertently find yourselves with yet more trouble. At Decker & Jones, we believe that providing the best juvenile defense also means providing a plan of solutions and prevention. We will work diligently to ensure that your child prevails in every way possible, both in the present and for the future.
To benefit from nearly two decades of combined legal experience in juvenile law that is available at Decker & Jones, simply fill out the convenient online contact form or call our Golden or Denver offices at (303) 573-5253. When you contact Decker & Jones to schedule a free initial consultation and learn about the legal options available to your child, your call will be returned within two hours. We accept credit cards and can also create payment plans for our clients in need. Contact Decker & Jones today for a free consultation.
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